His­toric Get­away

Victorian Homes - - Contents - By Stephanie Agnes-crock­ett

The White Doe Inn of Man­teo, North Carolina, of­fers cou­ples an el­e­gant re­treat.

The White Doe Inn, a Vic­to­rian es­tab­lish­ment in Man­teo, North Carolina, has a his­tory as rich as its il­lus­tri­ous fur­nish­ings. Fea­tured on the Na­tional Regis­ter of His­toric Build­ings, the Queen Anne style bed and break­fast started as the Meekins home.

MEEKINS HOME HIS­TORY

“Theodore S. Meekins came from one of the old­est fam­i­lies in the Outer Banks,” co-innkeeper Bebe Woody ex­plains. “His an­ces­tors had in­hab­ited the area since be­fore the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion.” Meekins served as mag­is­trate for the Kin­na­keet town­ship on Hat­teras Is­land, be­fore mov­ing to Man­teo.

Meekins mar­ried Rose P. Mid­gett, with whom he would have seven chil­dren, in 1896. Seven years later, the Meekins pur­chased the lot on County (now Sir Wal­ter Raleigh) Street that would house their home, and even­tu­ally, the White Doe Inn.

With help from his wife, his brother-in-law and a con­trac­tor, Meekins built the home piece by piece. The home builders were ex­pe­ri­enced crafts­men. “The men had mea­sur­able ex­pe­ri­ence in build­ing, and had con­structed sev­eral light­house keep­ers’ houses and life-sav­ing sta­tions on the Outer Banks,” Bebe says.

It’s a good thing the builders were ex­pe­ri­enced, be­cause they cer­tainly had their work cut out for them. “They built the three­story house in Man­teo us­ing a pho­to­graph,” Bebe says. “Lo­cal tra­di­tion claims that Cramer Broth­ers Com­pany of El­iz­a­beth City milled the win­dows for the house, cut the build­ing ma­te­ri­als and sent them to Roanoke Is­land by boat.”

BE­COM­ING THE WHITE DOE INN

Nearly 100 years af­ter its con­struc­tion, the Meekins Home sold to Bob and Bebe Woody in 1993. The Woodys, who both have ex­pe­ri­ence as U.S. Na­tional Park Ser­vice rangers, wanted to open “an up­scale inn that pro­vided a place for cou­ples to re­con­nect.” The cou­ple ren­o­vated the build­ing for two years prior to its open­ing in May 1995. The renovation process in­cluded sub­stan­tial ad­di­tions, since the new own­ers in­tended to open an inn. For the most part, the home had re­mained in­tact over the past cen­tury, with the ex­cep­tion of the kitchen, “which was the orig­i­nal story and a half.”

Bob and Bebe knew the kitchen would have to go, but they also knew they wanted to pre­serve the home’s his­tor­i­cal integrity, and ren­o­vated ac­cord­ingly. “We used the orig­i­nal foot­print, but en­larged the space,” Bebe says. In addition to in­tro­duc­ing the new kitchen, the Woodys also en­larged the home, trans­form­ing it into a hos­pitable inn.

“We added two bed­rooms, which in­creased the num­ber to nine,” Bebe says. To equip the guest rooms with bath­rooms, the cou­ple also added nine and a half bath­rooms. In spite of the nu­mer­ous ad­di­tions, Bob and Bebe con­tin­ued to main­tain the Vic­to­rian virtues of the home. “The inn is lo­cated in the midst of a south­ern coastal vil­lage that re­flects is­land life from the past,” Bebe says. “We did ev­ery­thing with an ef­fort to pre­serve the integrity of the his­toric struc­ture.”

While keeping the furniture and ar­chi­tec­ture as his­toric as pos­si­ble, the Woodys did decide to in­tro­duce cer­tain fea­tures to en­hance the com­fort of their lodgers. Af­ter all, “the friendly, up­scale, ser­vice-ori­ented lodg­ing” strives to meet and ex­ceed cus­tomers’ ex­pec­ta­tions. Bob and Bebe de­cided to add “whirlpools, fire­places and bal­conies to the rooms.”

ANTIQUES AND AR­CHI­TEC­TURE

Al­though the inn was built in the fi­nal years of the Vic­to­rian era, it fea­tures strong Vic­to­rian el­e­ments. For in­stance, the front left side of the house boasts a shapely three-story tur­ret. “Each story has a room that in­cludes the tur­ret as part of that room, mak­ing those rooms very unique,” Bebe says. Like­wise, along the out­side of the porch, nu­mer­ous white col­umns up­hold the struc­ture, as well as the tra­di­tional Vic­to­rian style.

The inn of­fers nine guest rooms, each em­brac­ing a slightly dif­fer­ent dec­o­ra­tive style. The Vir­ginia Dare Bed­cham­ber, for ex­am­ple, off­sets its gray-blue walls with creamy flo­ral fur­nish­ings and white trim. In con­trast, the Tower Suite, the top tur­ret room, uses a soft, sooth­ing green color pal­ette with clean black ac­cents.

Even this tree gives off a Vic­to­rian feel, with its old-fash­ioned pas­tel bird­houses. In the back­ground, scal­loped trim beau­ti­fies the low gable roof.

Above. Did some­body men­tion tea? This al fresco din­ing area com­bines fine fares and chairs for a salu­bri­ous snack time. opposite. Be­tween blues, greens and golds, the Raleigh Bed­room makes for a simple Vic­to­rian es­cape, com­plete with a crack­ling fire beck­on­ing from the hearth.

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